Natasha Lyonne and 'Joker' director Todd Phillips also had unexpected appearances that were brief but meaningful.
In Marielle Heller's A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) sits inside Mandarin Gourmet, a Chinese restaurant in downtown Pittsburgh, asking reporter Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) to be silent for 10 seconds and think about the people who love him. One of the diners in the scene is the real-life Mrs. Rogers, Joanne, who was married to the TV icon for more than 50 years. As the keeper of his legacy, she also met with Beautiful Day screenwriters Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster.
Noah Baumbach's agent appears in Marriage Story as an attorney consoling a client in a hallway outside a courtroom toward the end of the divorce drama. "As agents, we mostly labor in the shadows," the UTA partner tells THR. "Noah has permitted me to be a collaborator as well as a representative in his career." Adds the filmmaker of his agent's cameo (Barber's third in the director's movies): "I have to say he was very well cast in Marriage Story because he's playing a peacemaker. That's sort of what he does as an agent."
The Russian Doll co-creator, star and writer has stints in three awards-season films. She's seen briefly driving a car as "Mom" in Alma Har'el's Honey Boy and heard over the phone trying to talk some sense into Adam Sandler's Howard Ratner in Josh and Benny Safdie's Uncut Gems. "It's obviously just really a nice thing that directors of that level want you to be a part of anything — via text message, no less," Lyonne tells THR. The Emmy nominee also plays opposite Brad Pitt, welcoming him to Mars, in James Gray's Ad Astra.
Phillips wrote and directed the character study drawn from the iconic DC Comics villain, but he also pursues a little stand-up himself in Joker as the comic who precedes Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) at a comedy club. Phillips, who has appeared in his other films, including The Hangover series, isn't seen, but he's heard telling a joke. Justin Theroux also pops up near the end of the drama as Ethan Chase, a celebrity guest on Live! With Murray Franklin, whom Fleck studies and imitates while prepping for his moment on the talk show.
This story first appeared in a January stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.